Earlier this year, Costa Rica’s Pacuare Lodge–19 intimate bungalows nestled along the breathtaking Pacuare River, surrounded by lush rainforest–was named one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. Guests stay near protected communities of sloths, monkeys, and jaguars, while enjoying the highest caliber of modern luxuries–beginning with the ride from the capital city of San José in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. Here, Pacuare Lodge’s Luz Cáceres talks about what makes the lodge stand out, and why the Sprinter was the perfect fit for its business.
Pacuare Lodge was committed to sustainable tourism long before it was in vogue. What’s your approach to the sustainability?
Not a single tree was cut down in order to build our bungalows–we’re very proud of that. Our energy is generated by a hydroelectric micro-central turbine, which uses a local water source to fuel our communication system, the lights that line the pathways to the bungalows, and our kitchen appliances. Also, we allocate a portion of our [proceeds] to both purchase and preserve our country’s precious primary rainforest. Over the last 22 years, we’ve preserved 860 acres.
What are some of the most popular things people do at Pacuare Lodge?
Some of my favorite activities at the lodge are whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River’s Class III & IV rapids, becoming acquainted with the rich culture and history of the native Cabecar peoples, and having a luxurious dinner at the Nest, a platform set high in a centuries-old treetop that the Mayans believed to be sacred.
What sort of role does ground transportation play in the Pacuare Lodge experience?
About 95 percent of our guests land in San José, the capital, and then the next morning we drive them to our lodge by the Pacuare River in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. It’s a two-and-a-half to three-hour ride.
Pacuare Lodge is known for its exceedingly high standards. Why did you choose to use the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter over similar vehicles?
We chose the Sprinter because it is more comfortable [and has more] space for luggage than similar vehicles. It is also very efficient and safe on the gravel-road journey to the banks of the Pacuare River. The Lodge is quite small, and very exclusive. We normally don’t handle big groups, so the Sprinter is perfect because it adjusts very well to the number of people that we bring to the lodge.
How do your guests react to traveling in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter?
They appreciate the safety and comfort. It is quite comfortable, and the height of the van is perfect. Also, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has very large windows all around the van, which allows our guests to see the route and the road; we pass by volcanoes, cotton plantations, sugar cane plantations, and valleys. It’s beautiful.
What makes the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van a crucial part of the Pacuare Lodge experience?
It contributes to providing a high-end experience for our guests. When we design our trips, that’s what we envision.
If you were going to customize the Sprinters for Pacuare experience, what would you do?
We’d probably start by adding luggage racks to the roof.
You’ve built a reputation for sustainability and excellence. If you could give advice to other growing businesses about adding a mobile element, what would it be?
Put safety first always, innovate, and provide a comfortable experience.